Milwaukee – Valerie Daniels-Carter, a minority owner of the Milwaukee Bucks, has been a sports fan all her life.
Growing up on the north side of Milwaukee, Daniels-Carter was coming of age just about the time the City Bucks recruited a 7-footer from UCLA named Lew Alcindor. In 1971, Alcindor (now Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) led the Bucks to his only NBA championship in franchise history, which Daniels-Carter calls an “electrifying moment” in the city’s history. p>
That love of sports has followed Daniels-Carter, one of three minority-owned Black women in the NBA, along with actress Jada Pinkett Smith (Philadelphia 76ers) and Bet co-founder Sheila Johnson (Washington Wizards). ), throughout his life. . she played college basketball at historically black lincoln university, she received an offer to play for the short-lived women’s professional basketball league milwaukee does and, in 2011, she was elected to the board of directors of the green bay packers. p>
But sports ownership has long been a passion for Daniels-Carter, who is also chairman of V&JFoods Holdings, the parent entity of a collection of fast-food franchise brands, including Burger King, Pizza Hut, Häagen-Dazs and, through a partnership with Hall of Fame basketball player Shaquille O’Neal, Aunt Anne’s Soft Pretzels. When Michael Jordan was in line to buy the dollars from then-team owner Herb Kohl in 2003, Daniels-Carter was part of the pool of potential owners. But Kohl withdrew the offer to sell him, and Jordan joined the then-owned group of the Charlotte Bobcats. Daniels-Carter would have to wait another decade for a chance to join the Bucks.
Reading: Black woman owner of milwaukee bucks
In 2014, Daniels-Carter, along with four black business executives from Milwaukee, helped form Partners for Community Impact, an investment collective that bought a minority stake in Dollars.
Before game 5 of the nba finals between the bucks and phoenix suns, daniels-carter spoke with the undefeated about growing up in milwaukee, the importance of historically black colleges and universities (hbcus), and if it will be #bucksin6 .
Where does your love for sports come from?
Probably since I was a kid, actually, to be honest with you. I played high school ball. I played college ball. my brothers, of whom I had six, always challenged us to participate in sports and things of that nature. I played tennis in college, in high school. so I’ve always been involved in some kind of sport. I love sports. I think it’s probably one of the best outlets an individual can have if he’s not doing it professionally. I think everyone has something they can relate to when it comes to sports.
How different do you think things would have been if you had tried professional basketball?
Well, at the time, to be honest with you, [women’s basketball] wasn’t what it is today. it was only in its infancy stages of really starting. it’s totally different today. It is a highly respected sport today. we had phenomenal players back then, but now you have individuals who take the challenge of professional women’s basketball seriously and aggressively on their shoulders and carry it every day. it’s totally different.
How good would you say you are?
was fine. I wasn’t bad I was good enough to do it. I could have been competitive if I had chosen to stay, but I saw a different path for myself.
what was it like growing up in milwaukee?
growing up in milwaukee, i had a very good childhood and experienced many opportunities, just like i do today, being a milwaukee resident. It hasn’t been without its challenges, as we all know, but life really is what you make of it. and for us, I had a healthy upbringing. I had a family, I had relationships and things that make life complete. and I am very satisfied with the way I was raised and the values that were instilled in me when I was young and where I am today.
Milwaukee, as we know, is a fairly segregated city. but we didn’t look at the color line when we grew up. at the time, living at 44th and hampton [avenue], there were very few black families, and we all knew each other in that community. I think when I graduated, and I graduated from custer high school, I think there may have been 10 African Americans in my graduating class, probably from a class of several hundred. but you learn to cope with it. you learn to manage, you learn to deal with things.
The Bucks won the title in 1971. What do you remember about that time?
So, I was in high school and it was an exciting time in the city. i think everyone was celebrating the fact that milwaukee had won a championship and they were elated. I was excited. it was a time of a unified city that, even at the time, was very segregated and disconnected. and I think you’re seeing the same thing now. it’s a unifying experience, and it’s bringing together all kinds of people from all walks of life, from all ethnicities. and we all embrace one thing: victory.
What has this 50-year drought been like for someone who was a fan of this team when you were younger until now?
It’s painful to live so long and not have a championship. I’m just going to be honest with you. I think that’s why we’re all so energized by it, because it’s been a long time. We’ve had a couple of successes, but we haven’t just had the actual experience of the NBA championship. and for the dollars to bring that to the city of milwaukee, and the way they brought it: we have a team of young men who have integrity, are respected, are attractive, are part of the community, give back, care, not just who they are, but also how they accept others. So when I look at the dynamic of what we have, it’s not just about the winning team, it’s about the winning culture. and so they’re creating a culture and that’s what I enjoy.
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tell me about going from high school to lincoln university.
it’s interesting because actually my intention was not to go to lincoln but to go to spelman. When I initially graduated from high school and decided I wanted to check out different colleges, I knew I wanted to go to a historically black college. so i had the opportunity to visit spelman, and they were really, let’s call it “locked in dorms”, in terms of where a person could stay. and the only place they had was this bedroom. and there were several young ladies who had to share this room. I said, ‘you know what? I think I’m going to try something different. and i ended up at lincoln because my sister had graduated from lincoln and was an alumna.
I went there, initially I didn’t get a basketball scholarship and I tried out for the team. and of course the coach embraced my history of playing basketball and eventually placed me not only on the roster to play but also on a scholarship. so it was a great experience. I tell young people all the time: There’s nothing like a historically black college experience. I have friends to this day, and I graduated from college in ’78, so you can imagine, who I’m still very close with, and we still have this harmony of hugging each other. so it was a great experience. I can’t complain about my trip.
what can be done to help hbcus and its students thrive today?
I think it’s part of us to continue to give back. what you will find is that historically black universities graduate some of the brightest minds in the world, and people embrace the accomplishments and achievements of those graduates. and a lot of our ivy league schools will look, even in graduate jobs, to try to attract people who have graduated from historically black colleges, because they know the value of those people. so I think it’s just part of the whole formula that makes all colleges work. we need funding from all sources. it needs funding from university supporters, it needs funding from foundations, and it needs funding from the government. needs tuition to be a balanced tuition. so it’s all the elements that make education work.
what made you want to go to an hbcu?
So, it wasn’t the only option. because I actually did a year here at uwm [university of wisconsin-milwaukee]. I think you have to make a conscious choice of what you want, and you have to intentionally understand the value that a historically black university brings. you take someone like me who grew up in a majority environment, as far as education goes, edison [junior] high school, custer high school, everything driven by the majority. and then the instilled desire is there to say, “I want to connect with people who go to places that look like me.” And where is the best place to connect with those people? at a historically black university.
and then they become friends there and actually grow up together there. you laugh, you cry, you talk, you fight, but you become the best partners. and then when you enter the corporate world or the business world, or wherever you end up, those become your support systems. and there’s a hug that people who have that historically black connection have that all I can say is it’s magical, man.
Four years after graduating from lincoln, he founded v&jfoods.
I started v&jfoods in 1982 when I was working on my masters and I started the groundwork in ’82, I opened my first restaurant in 1984, I had what I think are the right steps for entrepreneurs to be successful. I had a good base, a good base. I had a support system in my family. And I tell people this all the time, you need some kind of support system, because as you operate and navigate this world, there are going to be so many pressures and so many challenges, you need to be able to reach out and touch someone who believes in you.
and then i started a restaurant, i started a burger king restaurant in 1984… and i decided i really enjoyed this industry. And so we grew our Burger King brand, and then we launched into Pizza Hut. We launched other brands: Häagen-Dazs Ice Cream, Cinnabon, Aunt Anne’s Pretzels, Nino’s Southern Sides, MyYomy Frozen Yogurt. and then a few years ago we started bringing captain d’s seafood to milwaukee.
After growing his business portfolio, he formed partners for community impact to buy a stake in the dollars. What made you decide on that?
well first of all, and i’ll share this with you, initially, michael jordan was going to buy the dollars before the… ownership group that actually bought the dollars. I was involved with Michael… and I had the opportunity to be a part of that. and when it didn’t happen, I said to myself, ‘I still have that wish.’ I would still like to be part of an ownership group because I knew eventually the team would be sold. So I reached out to my brother, John, and said, ‘Look, I know the team is still going to sell them, and whoever buys the team, I’d like to formulate a group of people to be part of the ownership structure. .’
and when we found out who the main owners were, we went to them and said: “we would like to be part of this organization”. I am inclusive. I am not a person who has to have everything or do everything by myself. and found some very sharp people who had the same passion for sports and who wanted to be part of the ownership team. because at some point we have to be able to embrace the excellence within each other and not be afraid to share it. so we formulated the group, organized it and made our presentation to the owners and the nba.
and it is a long process. the application process would only make someone say, ‘no, I’m not going to do this,’ but we did it, and we stood there relentlessly awaiting the opportunity to be a part of this new organization. and it happened some people said it would never happen.
i read that you were once in a burger king boardroom advocating for more diversity in advertising and marketing. How has that translated to working in sports and how have you had to champion diversity in this space?
That’s a great question, because there is a need and there are many opportunities in sports other than playing sports. And being able to have individuals of color, diverse individuals, operating in those spaces, is vitally important. I can go through a list of opportunities within the world of sports that we need people who look like you and me, or people of different backgrounds to be a part of. I’m really a strong advocate of allowing people who have the skill and the ability to execute at a high level to have a chance.
But if we’re never in the boardroom, if we’re never around the table, there’s a lack of awareness in the room. And it’s not that people don’t. it’s just that consciousness is not in the room to allow you to think beyond your circle at times. so even having us at the boardroom table, having us in the circle of ownership, allows them to expand the ability to think consciously beyond this square box.
Is there a future where you buy a larger ownership stake in a professional sports team?
I don’t limit myself. And if the right opportunity comes along, and it’s right for me, and you don’t do something just because you’re capable of it, you have to be able to absolutely make sure that it suits you. I’m a woman of faith, man. And I walk by faith, and if God opens a door, you better get out of the way, because I’m passing by, I’m like a freight train.
final question. dollars in six?
dollars and win.